June 11, 2016 – The Warren Creek Fire burning in northwest Alaska continues to grow but the fire is now moving away from the villages of Kobuk and Shungnak.
The fire was estimated at 1,174 acres as of late Friday night and has likely grown in size since then, according to Mike Roos, assistant fire management officer for the BLM Alaska Fire Service’s Galena Zone.
The good news is that the wind direction switched on Saturday and was blowing out of the southeast, which was pushing the fire to the northwest toward a limited protection zone and away from the nearest villages and Dahl Creek, an old Bureau of Land Management fire station that has several structures and an airstrip. The fire is burning mainly in black spruce and tundra.
The BLM Alaska Fire Service has ordered approximately 80 personnel to work on the fire and more crews will likely be mobilized to the fire on Sunday.
Currently, there are 22 smokejumpers working on the fire, as well as the Type 1 Midnight Sun hotshot crew and Type 2 Northstar Crew , both from the Alaska Fire Service. The Gannett Glacier Type 2 Initial Attack Crew from the Alaska Division of Forestry is also enroute to the fire to join suppression efforts.
Six water-scooping aircraft were being used Saturday to drop water on the fire. The main objective at this point is to keep the fire from moving to the south or east and the wind was helping to do that, said Roos. An air retardant tanker from Fairbanks was used to drop a load of retardant near the head of the fire to keep it from spreading to a cabin that is located about a mile from the fire.
The village of Kobuk is located about 5 miles south of the fire and the village of Shungnak is approximately 10 miles south of the fire. Dahl Creek is about one mile west of where the fire started and is located at the end of a road that runs from Kobuk and parallels the north flank of the fire.
There is nobody living at Dahl Creek but the site has cabins belonging to different government agencies, as well as several privately-owned structures.
Staging and fueling areas have been set up at the airstrip at Dahl Creek and the Alaska Fire Service as working with local villagers to get ATVs and other vehicles to use while fighting the fire.
The fire was reported at around 2:30 p.m. Friday and was burning approximately one mile west of Dahl Creek. Driven by wind, the fire quickly grew to an estimated 894 acres. Water-scooping aircraft dropped water on the fire into the late evening and an air retardant tanker from Fairbanks was ordered to drop a load of retardant on the fire, but the turnaround time was too long to make it efficient so the tanker was sent back to Fairbanks.
There were some spot fires that started to the east on Friday night but the Midnight Sun crew was working that side of the fire to prevent those fires from spreading.